Rubio Says U.S. Immigration Plan Needs Stronger Border Security

June 5, 2013 01:01 PM

Florida Republican says bipartisan bill won’t pass without stronger border security language.

Kathleen Hunter

Senator Marco Rubio said today a bipartisan immigration plan he co-authored won’t win enough votes to pass the Senate or the House unless its border-security provisions are strengthened.

"It’s very simple: If people want immigration reform, we’re going to have to improve the border-security elements of the bill, and we’ll have to make people confident that what we’re doing is enough," the Florida Republican and prospective 2016 presidential candidate said today after a closed-door meeting with a group of House Republicans.

"That’s what I’m going to focus on," said Rubio, who has said he wouldn’t vote for the bill as written.

Rubio is a member of a bipartisan group of eight senators who wrote the immigration bill the Senate is scheduled to start debating next week. Although they have agreed to defeat major changes that could imperil the measure, Rubio has said stronger border-security language must be included to gain Republican support.

The question is whether the legislation can gain enough Republican support to win Senate passage and ease resistance in the Republican-controlled House, without losing Democratic votes or splitting the bipartisan alliance behind the bill.

"There’s a vibrant debate going on in the Republican Party," Rubio told reporters today. "The bill as currently structured isn’t going to pass in the House, and I think it’s going to struggle to pass in the Senate."

The Senate measure seeks to balance a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. -- a provision sought by Democrats -- with enough border- security improvements to satisfy Republicans.

U.S.-Mexico Border

It would authorize $4.5 billion for tighter border security and require 100 percent surveillance and a 90 percent apprehension rate along the U.S.-Mexico border before any undocumented immigrant could qualify for legal permanent residency.

Rubio said he was working with Republican senators on ways to bolster border security in the bill. He has been helping to develop a proposal to boost Congress’s role in writing and overseeing a plan to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We encourage them to do that, and we’re interested to see what they come up with," he said. "But we’re certainly are going to have to do more than what’s in the bill now in order to get the votes necessary to pass a law."

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